15 January 2018
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (Berec) has identified enabling 5G connectivity as a key priority for 2018, according to its incoming chairperson.
Johannes Gungl is the managing
director of the Department of Telecommunications and Post at
RTR, the Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and
Telecoms, and will take over from French regulator Sebastien
Soriano as Berec chair in 2018.
Speaking at the European Competitive Telecommunications
Association (ECTA) regulatory conference in Brussels, Gungl
said Berec is taking a "holistic approach" to the deployment of
5G, but it was one of the key issues on his agenda for
One consideration he discussed was the availability of
backhaul required to support the fifth generation of mobile
connectivity – a key issue in Europe.
In his speech, he said: "On 5G there is already a lot of
activity going on, despite the fact that 5G will not be
operational in Europe until 2020. However the challenges to be
addressed are getting clearer. These challenges are ranging
from the work on standards, interoperability, new business
models, network sharing to coverage and security.
"Berec will make 5G a strategic priority with the aim to
enable European-scale solutions. It is our goal to help reap
the benefits of an early roll-out of 5G in Europe. Berec will
actively and closely follow the development and will work to
identify and eliminate potential hurdles to a smooth deployment
He outlined several work items that Berec has planned for
2018, which began with a study on the changes to the value
chain in the context of the new connectivity.
It will also look into the award procedures, infrastructure
sharing and the compatibility of current net neutrality rules
within the concept of network slicing.
"There is one thing that I want to emphasize in this forum
and that is that Berec is well aware of the role of competition
in relation to 5G and especially the backhaul infrastructure
availability," he added. "Let me remind you that just recently
Berec has launched a report on fixed and mobile network
convergence addressing exactly this issue."
With net neutrality a hot topic of discussion following the
US regulator’s decision to revoke Obama-era free
internet rules, Berec is also looking at its approach to the
Gungl said the body of regulators will work closesly with
its members – the national European regulators
– in their efforts to apply the EU’s net
neutrality (NN) regulations in a consistent way across the
"In 2018 Berec will provide input to an evaluation of the NN
rules that has to be done until end of April 2019 and we will
continue to monitor the implementation of the NN rules across
Europe," Gungl added.
High capacity networks
The final concern he outlined during his presentation was
around connectivity challenges. In this he recognised the
importance of high capacity networks, but said the migration
from legacy networks, the roll-out of fibre service, and market
consolidation can lead to new competition problems.
"Very high-capacity networks have become central for
consumers and businesses. But the variety in the deployment of
high-capacity networks has led to different market conditions
across Europe," he said.
"Berec has detected a strategic priority to work on
identifying competition problems in the development of
high-capacity networks. Here I want to respond to another
comment made by ECTA during the public consultation. We can
confirm that there will be no one-sided focus on questions of
high-capacity network deployment. There is still work to be
done on existing infrastructures, but our work must be
forward-looking and future-proof."
His speech came at a time when the future of Berec was under
scrutiny, with the European Commission proposing that Berec be
given a new mandate that would have potentially increased its
powers by making it a full-fledged EU agency.
Ministers rejected this plan, saying Berec should not be
able to adopt binding decisions, as proposed by the commission.
MEPs have also opposed the proposal.